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Recipe: Vegan Tofu Tacos

When it comes to tacos, there is not much need to stray from the normal. Beef, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, all wrapped in a flour tortilla is one of the greatest foods we have been blessed with. However, we know there must be a healthier, plant based option for all our brothers and sisters who do not eat meat.

A great alternative to meat in the modern diet is tofu. Tofu is a great source of protein and low in calories, lowers “LDL” cholesterol, enhances renal function, and so much more. Vegetarian protein sources are extremely important as there is a misconception that plant based diets are protein deficient. This is easily debunked as many vegetables, grains, and beans have protein. All of these are staples in the diets of many vegetarians and vegans. “LDL” cholesterol is the type of blood cholesterol that we want to lower. It stands for low-density lipoproteins, and a build up of this cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries. Tofu can also enhance renal function in those undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Adding tofu into our diets, whether we are plant based or meat eaters, shows great benefits we otherwise may not be experiencing. These tofu tacos are great for anyone just trying tofu or our experience connoisseurs. They are so easy, great for meal prep, and can be modified in many ways to add your own spice to it.

Other ingredients may look new for anyone who eats the modern Western diet. Black beans (although notorious for getting us a little gassy), are great sources of fiber, protein, and may also help us lower our “LDL” cholesterol. Nutritional yeast is a great addition to vegan diets as it tastes similarly to cheese (though not exactly cheese, nothing will replace cheese in my diet or my heart). Aside from its awesome flavor, nutritional yeast is a great source of nutrients, especially if you purchase the fortified form. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids (Whoop whoop!); contains antioxidants, and B vitamins. Antioxidants are great little soldiers in our bodies that fight free radicals, which can be harmful to our cells, proteins, and DNA. B vitamin sources for vegans are extremely important because many vegans are deficient in this vitamin, especially B-12. When deficient in B-12, you may experience memory loss, brain fog, fatigue, anemia, or shortness of breath. This meal is chock full of great nutrients that are essential for our bodies that we may not be getting from other foods. Check this meal out, and let us know what you think!

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Ingredients:

  • Firm tofu pack
  • One can of black beans
  • One green pepper
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 low sodium soy sauce
  • Hot taco seasoning packet (I used about 1/3 of it)
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Whole grain wraps
  1. Season your skillet for best taste and easy cooking.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, hot taco seasoning packet, onion powder, garlic power, and Cajun seasoning.
  3. Open and drain the firm tofu pack. Break up and add to the large bowl with seasoning mixture. I use my hand to break and mix the tofu, may be messy but it’s certainly the easiest!
  4. Drain and wash black beans, add to the large bowl. Wash and cut up green pepper, add to the large bowl and mix.
  5. Pour large bowl mixture into the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the salsa and allow the liquid to cook off for an additional 5 minutes. Add in desired amount of nutritional yeast and mix. Allow to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. Place skillet in the oven and broil for approximately 5 minutes, allowing for the top to crisp. Take the skillet from the oven, mix, and place back into the oven to broil. Repeat for additional crispness or take out, and allow to cool.
  7. We enjoy these a few ways: (1.) simply wrapping in a whole grain tortilla wrap, (2.) crunching whole grain tortilla chips over the mix, (3.) over spinach, served as a salad. This is where you get creative! Let us know how you make them!

 

Orthorexia: Disordered Perfection

Orthorexia. Have you ever heard about it? Do you know what it is?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, orthorexia is an unhealthy fixation on eating only healthy or “pure” foods. While it may not yet be in the DSM5, it has been identified as disordered eating behavior since the 1990s.

So why is this important now?

With the craze of sharing our diets on social media, the confusing diet advice on the web, and heavily marketed “healthy” foods, this has been on the rise recently. While many of us want to reach for healthier options, we often times do not beat ourselves up over choosing less nutrient rich foods. However; for someone who has orthorexic tendencies, choosing a less nutrient rich food is a struggle for them. They may severely beat themselves up, mentally or physically, for choosing a food that is not as healthy as they believe it is.

According to Timberline Knolls, Residential Treatment Center, an individual suffering with this may avoid foods containing ingredients such as:

  • Artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
  • Pesticides or GMOs
  • Fat, sugar, salt
  • Animal or dairy products

The treatment center also sees common behavior changes such as:

  • Obsessive concern over relationship between food choices and health concerns such as asthma or digestive problems
  • Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies, without medical advice
  • Noticeable supplement, herbal remedies, or probiotics increase
  • Drastic reduction of opinions of acceptable food choices; sufferer may consume less than 10 chosen foods
  • Irrational concern over food preparation techniques; such as washing of food or sterilization of utensils

So why is this a concern? Individuals should not have to fear what they are eating. We should all be able to eat in peace while choosing foods that nourish us and allow us to grow. Additionally, we should also have the freedom in ourselves and the peace of mind to choose foods that may not be as nutrient rich but we find satisfying if we so choose to.

If you believe you or someone you know may be falling into these habits, speak up. Orthorexia is a habit of disordered eating and needs to be addressed in order for the sufferer to get help. Every individual is different with how to approach them, so make sure you are patient, honest, and caring for anyone suffering with this or any other disordered eating habit.

Just because this pattern of disordered eating is targeted around eating healthier foods, does not necessarily mean it entails healthy habits. Disorders such as orthorexia affect the individual mentally just as they do physiologically.

Many treatment options are available online or through one’s doctor. If you are in need, research options and talk to a health professional or Dietitian for help.

Do not allow today’s portrayal of online perfection affect you and your happiness.

You deserve to have the freedom to eat peacefully.

 

 

A Very Veggie Wedgie

Hello friends, long time no blog!

My oh my, do we have a lot to catch up. This post is going to be dedicated to my recent decision to slowly become ~*Plant based*~. Why did I make this decision? How long has it been? Would I recommend it? Well buckle up ladies and gents, we’re going green.

Eating meatless and plant based can be quite controversial for some people. The way we eat is so intimate and personal that being told we should not be consuming foods we love can feel almost like a break up. (Like think about who think is the love of your life but actually they could be wrecking your insides, possibly causing weight gain, and causing you to feel bad from the inside out). Ok that sounds dramatic and may actually be going in your relationship but you understand me, right? We DO NOT want to hear that our favorite foods are not great for us! Even as a Dietetics major, learning about food and how they can affect us always breaks my heart a bit. I’m looking at you chocolate fudge ice cream. So when we learned about how meat may be affecting us, I became a bit uneasy about eating my daily chicken and turkey bacon. Please note that this is still pretty controversial and I feel meat does have purpose but there are definitely alternatives. 

I always assumed meat was the only way I would get enough protein in my diet. My meals always consisted of meat, grain, and vegetables when I meal prepped. I cannot stomach protein powders for the life of me so supplementing definitely steered me away from stepping away from meat. Yet in class a few weeks ago we reviewed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics positions on vegetarian diets and, while I expected they would support it, it changed my point of view on the subject specifically on protein. It read:

    “Vegetarian, including vegan, diets typically meet or exceed recommended protein intakes, when caloric intakes are adequate” Wanna hear more?

 

I’m not too sure why this stuck with me especially since I expected this as their reasoning. Yet knowing that I am able to meet or even exceed my protein intake without eating meat made me want to just try it. That night I didn’t eat meat and guess what? I didn’t eat meat the next day or the day after that either. In the last two weeks I have eaten meat once and it was only because I was too nervous to tell my aunt I didn’t want to eat chicken. My two week journey may not be that exciting but I have enjoyed this time. It is much easier for me than I thought it would be. Knowing that I am not harming animals or even the environment and rather fueling my body with plant based goodness feels awesome!

Now do I push this on everyone? Of course not. If you do not want to be vegetarian that is fine. If you don’t even want to give up cookies because you love them so much then that is fine, but do you know how the food you eat is affecting you or could be affecting you? I encourage everyone to educate themselves, do research, ask questions because you truly may not know what you are eating. If you want to eat whatever you want then that is your choice, but I believe we should at least have the ability to know how it can affect you. Education is such a powerful tool that we should be really taking advantage of especially with having so much at our finger tips.
Well rant over, I am going to sit back and eat my cucumbers and broccoli while I begin to enjoy a much more plant based lifestyle.

 

My Motivation

I get asked almost everyday, “How do you stay so motivated?”

It always makes me laugh because I don’t find myself a very motivating person. I lay in bed until almost noon, I half-ass my work, and I complain about having to do most forms of physical activity because laying on the couch and scrolling social media is always a better idea to me. Yet, I get asked that question everyday. It took me awhile to figure out how to respond when someone would ask because I want to make sure I’m telling them something that not only I would want to hear but is also realistic and honest.

After much deliberation I decided what keeps me motivated and I hope this list helps someone else find their own personal motivation too.

  1. Do something you enjoy and do it a lot. Today I can honestly say that I love working out, somedays it’s the highlight of my day. Sure I complain when I’m getting ready or when I’m walking in the door but as soon as I’m in my zone I’m all there. The gym is my happy place, and maybe it’s yours too but it might not be. Some love Crossfit, yoga, running, workout classes, swimming. Whatever form of exercise you love, do it! Don’t make it something you don’t enjoy because you will dread it and continue to put it off. Make it something you look forward to everyday and want to progress in.
  2. Learn and do research about exercise and nutrition. Going to school first for exercise science then switching into nutrition gives me a good foundation for this topic. However, not everyone will walk in my same shoes. Research and learn correct form, new workouts, proper nutrition, etc. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. Trainers and front desk workers at the gym love to help people, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or advice. So many great influencers, bloggers, and websites offer workout ideas and tips that you can find for free online as well.
  3. Surround yourself with support. If those around you do not support your journey, it will definitely be more difficult to achieve your goals. You may feel discouraged or be faced with difficult obstacles you will have to overcome. If your family or friends do not support your goals or put you down for it, try to talk to them about why you want to change your habits. Ask them to join you or make a healthy meal with them. If they see how hard your trying or also enjoy it they may change their habits as well. I’m thankful those around me are so supportive and also have the same habits as me, but not everyone is so lucky.
  4. Document your progress. As many know, I have a fitness Instagram account that I started less than a year ago. I originally made it to give my friends workout ideas if they couldn’t workout with me as well as to follow influential accounts without flooding my personal timeline. I can honestly say it has motivated me 10000% more having this account. I want to post a workout or a motivational quote or the changes in my body. I want to share the healthy meals I made or make new connections. I also use MyFitnessPal to keep track of my eating. I used to be dangerously religious with this app, but over the years I’ve learned more about what I can and cannot do and have recently gone back to using it. It helps to keep track of my macronutrient and caloric intake. I don’t use it everyday and usually forget to track anything but even tracking 1 meal helps to keep me in line. I also believe in taking progress pictures along the way. Take them in the beginning, when you’re feeling good, when you’re feeling bad, when you’ve reached a goal. Always take them. Sometimes we believe we’ve barely progressed but in reality we just aren’t comparing it where we’ve been. Try taking them weekly or monthly and I always suggest taking them in the beginning.

There are definitely a million and one ways to be motivated. The truth is, what keeps me motivated may not keep you motivated. Find what sparks that fire and get out there and do the damn thing. Working out does not have to be this negative painful experience people make it out to be, you just have to find what works best for you.

Recommended Books and Documentaries

Something I’ve realized about myself over the years is that I love to learn. 12 year old me never thought I would ever say (type) that sentence, but 22 year old me is a bit wiser. I changed my major to nutrition over a year ago because it was a challenge, there was much more to learn, and it truly was my passion.

My education so far has been full of challenging courses, loads of papers to type, and surprisingly a decent amount of videos and documentaries full of other people’s perspectives and insights of the world of nutrition and health.

And I love it.

    To be fair, who wouldn’t love a day of watching videos rather than sitting through lecture? However, even on summer break I look for even more videos, documentaries, and books to expand my tiny brain to be even more full of (hopefully) useful knowledge. I owe my opinions and perspectives on the health industry truly on what I have learned and taken away from said documentaries and books, so I’m very passionate about them.

I want to share them with you guys because not everyone is going to take a nutrition course or sit through repeated of lectures on gluconeogenesis and cell mutation. Truly not everyone is as lucky as science majors to learn about that (ha). However, I also know most people get their information from sketchy blogs (hey, don’t label me as sketchy), Facebook posts, or Instagram captions. Not that there isn’t anything wrong with those sources, but they could very well not be the most reliable. I’ve compiled a list of my recommendations and some notes on them, for anyone who is looking for a nice watch or read whenever they want something new.

I also recommend watching the documentaries on Netflix while you do cardio. Much more bearable and may help keep you motivated.


Books

  1.  In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan
    • Currently my favorite! Pollan not only educates you about health and nutrition but gives a new perspective on why we eat the way we do. He has a great collections of published books about food and health, as well as Netflix documentaries on them as well!
  2. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser
    • All about how the fast food empires became what they are now. Less on nutrition and health, more about their backstories and why they have had their effect on the North American waistline.
  3. The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, by Dan Buettner
    • An interesting take on centenarians and those areas of the world where more people live to be 100 years old, Blue Zones.

On Netflix

  1. In Defense of Food
    • I already mentioned how much I love this. But now you can see the man, the myth, the legend that is Michael Pollan talk about his passions on your screen and you’ll love him as I love him.
  2. Food, Inc
    • Watched this in Nutrition 101 years ago, love it.
  3. Explained, Season 1 Episode 3: Why Diets Fail
    • Great take on the fad diet industry and why they just don’t work as they’re advertised.
  4. Rotton, Season 1 Episode 2: The Peanut Problem
    • All about food allergies which isn’t talked about too much in the nutrition courses I have taken so far, but also on the rise!
  5. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
    • May seem pro-vegan or sustainability for some, but overall great documentary about the benefits of less meat and the dark sides of the meat industry
  6. Bill Nye Saves the World, Season 1 Episode 8: This Diet is Bananas
    • We all love Bill Nye. Now he’s talking about nutrition and fad diets? amazing. BILL BILL BILL BILL.
  7. The Magic School Bus, Season 1 Episode 2: For Lunch, Season 2 Episode Flexes its Muslces
    • Great for kids or if you just want an easy watch! First episode is all about the digestive system, second episode is about muscles.

 

This is only a short list of easy accessible videos and books that cover some very important topics on health. Take time to search the web or your local book store and see what they have. You may just find a hidden gem that really helps you learn more about health! If you have any more suggestions, I’d love to hear them so drop a comment or message me and tell me what you love!